Furry Friends held the first of many dog visits for SCHS


Alina Jafri

Therapy dogs came with the purpose of cheering up stressed students.

A drove of students crowded around the Student Body Office, cheering and clapping their hands, waiting to play with the cuddly dogs. It was the first Furry Friends pet visit of the school year, where therapy dogs came to help students deal with stress and cheer them up.

The Furry Friends club at SCHS organized the dogs on campus through the Furry Friends Pet Therapy Organization, and they plan on several more visits throughout the year, including ones in December, March, April and May.

The organization was founded in 1993 by Judy Kell after her nine-year-old daughter succumbed to a rare type of cancer. Judy noticed that one of the very few things that lifted her daughter’s spirits was her interaction with her cat. Judy joined with a veterinarian and a physician, and they approached Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with the idea of Furry Friends.

Furryfriends.org cites research that shows contact with pets can reduce stress and anxiety. A St.Louis University study on 92 hospital patients discovered that only 6% of the patients who owned pets died in one year compared to 28% of those who did not own pets.

Some students who attended the Furry Friends event, like freshman Alissa Friedman, believe the research is right, that dogs are a perfect way to alleviate a person’s stress.

“I think that it’s important that we have this opportunity at our school because high school can be very stressful and often students feel overwhelmed by homework or social anxiety, and playing with dogs is the perfect way to relax,” Friedman said.

The students and staff weren’t the only ones enjoying themselves. The dogs and their owners who were part of Furry Friends did, too.

“This job is great for my dog Stretch because he gets free massages all day long, and it’s something fun for us to do together,” Furry Friends worker Janet Gee said.

Furry Friends brought six dogs this time, but club president Tamara Pantic plans for more to come throughout the year.

“We plan to expand and accept more animals. We want to include different sizes of dogs, and cats as well,” Pantic said.

Pantic thought the visit was a success. Lots of excited students dropped by to play with the dogs.

“We hope these visits help students to meet some new people, forget about tests and college

applications for a bit, and just feel unconditional love from man’s best friend,” Pantic said.


For further information on Furry Friends, visit their website at http://www.furryfriends.org